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What isWebsite page speed?

What is page speed?

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Page speed is the amount of time it takes between the browser’s request for a page until the browser completes processing and rendering the content. Many factors affect the speed of a given page including quantity and type of content, distance the data travels, connection type, device, operating system, and browser.

Why should I care about page speed?

If you or your company publish a website, you do so to influence people to do something: consume content, make a purchase, use your application, visit your brink-and-mortar location, or look favorably on your brand. Your page speed influences user perceptions, and if your page loads slowly, you’ve lost them before your page finishes loading. By 3 seconds, you’ve lost 45 percent of your visitors. A decrease in page speed of as little as 500 milliseconds is all it takes to adversely affect people’s perceptions of a site, the brand, and its products (Tammy Everts, Time is Money). Your page speed could undermine your goals and ultimately decrease revenue.

What factors affect my page speed?

Every decision you make about your website affects the page speed. Making the correct choices across the board impacts the user’s experience on your page.

How does website hosting affect page speed?

Choosing the correct host for your website is critical for a quality user experience. You’ll need to consider your options based on the type of content and the expected traffic.

Shared web hosting: The least expensive option, shared web hosting means your site shares a physical server with other websites. Activity on the other sites sharing the server may use up bandwidth and server resources slowing down the delivery of your content.

Virtual private servers: A step up from shared hosting, with virtual private servers, your website gets its own virtual server. Your site may reside on the same machines as other sites, but they do not share an operating system making the site faster and more scalable.

Cloud hosting: This option is like virtual private servers; except with cloud hosting, your site may exist over several different servers making the site more reliable, and traffic spikes have less impact on performance.

Dedicated hosting: The most expensive option, dedicated hosting gives you full control over the site infrastructure. Since only your site uses the server, you don’t have to worry about drains on resources due to server competition from other websites.

If you see performance problems on your site, you may want to speak with your provider. In some cases, you may need to move your site to a different provider with a better service level agreement or upgrade your hosting plan.

How does content affect my page speed?

Content is where you can have the most significant impact on your page load time. Frequently the speed optimization fixes are fast, and the impact of optimizations is huge.  

  • Image optimization: Reduce image file size by sending appropriately sized images at the correct resolution for the user’s screen.
  • Enable compression: Enabling compression on the server reduces files to their smallest size before sending them to the browser.
  • Remove dead code and CSS: Clean out your CSS and script files of any unused code. These relics reduce page speed by consuming download bandwidth and browser processing.
  • Use browser hints: Let the browser use idle time to prefetch content and preconnect to resources that the browser will likely need soon. Learn more.
  • Use asynchronous loading. You can lazy load content and script files not needed in the visible portion of the initial render. By setting resources to download asynchronously allows the browser to download content in the background while it renders the visible part of the page.
  • Reduce the number of requests: Every request your page makes for resources adds time to your page speed. Consolidating script files, CSS files, using image sprites, and caching frequently needed resources on the browser reduces the number of round trips required to load your page.

The above list is just some of the things you can do to your content to improve page speed. Our free Website Speed Test tool can give you prioritized optimization recommendations that will improve your page speed.

How does user location affect page speed?

Latency due to the user’s location is often a killer of page speed. The further content needs to travel, the longer it takes to get that first byte and the slower the page speed. Placing your content physically close to your users improves page speed. Using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) can improve page speed (check your CDN speed).

How does connection type affect page speed?

You have no control over the user’s connection. Local Internet infrastructure and user choices, such as 3G wireless or broadband, may seem like insurmountable obstacles to improving page speed for those users. However, scaling content based on the user’s connection type and location can improve page speed.

How does browser choice affect page speed?

Users use a variety of browsers and their versions. Every new release promises a faster experience. And browser publishers deliver these promises by tweaking how the browsers do things, such as how they utilize memory or CPU processing. Knowing how your page performs on popular browsers helps you make better decisions affecting page speed.

How does device choice affect page speed?

For the longest time, many brands thought it was okay for their page to load slower on mobile. However, users now expect the same great speed on their mobile devices as they’ve enjoyed on their desktop, and Google expects great mobile performance as well.

Google’s ranking algorithm is a constantly changing organism, and Google only gives hints about the factors that go into your page rankings. However, Google does say that mobile performance plays a role. Google samples page speeds from sites by simulating a fast 3G cellular connection. How well the site does in Google's tests contributes to which sites rank highest. A low page speed may block you from the coveted number one spot in Google rankings.


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Get your page speed

Before you can improve your page speed, you need to know your current speed. Uptrends’ free Website Speed test tool can get you comprehensive web performance metrics and even give you tips on how to improve your page speed.

Using the tool, you can adjust the test to use different browsers, and you can simulate different devices and connection speeds. Also, you can choose to test from different regions, such as Las Angeles or Amsterdam.

  • Google Insights PageSpeed score. Google looks at more than just the download speed when determining your score. Google also considers how well you’ve implemented what Google considers best practices, such as using compression. Learn more about Google PageSpeed Insights.
  • Load time: This is your page speed. The time it took to load your page from request to fully loaded.
  • Requests: Total number of requests for resources made.
  • Page Size: The total size of the page in kilobytes.

    Uptrends' free Website Speed Test tool's page speed overview.


  • Page element distributions: What percentage of the total page content consists of elements like images, HTML files, scripts, and CSS.

    Uptrends' Website Speed Test tool's page content distributions by type, quantity, and size.

  • Page load progression: The waterfall breaks down each request and gives you the times for the resolve, connect, handshake, send, and wait for each element. You can quickly see things like blocking elements, failing elements, and performance bottlenecks.

    Uptrends' Website Speed Test tool's waterfall chart showing page-load progression.

Automate your page speed tests

Like most sites, your pages probably change frequently, and the addition and removal of page elements can ruin a good page speed quickly. Something as simple as the introduction of one unoptimized image can reduce your page speed to a crawl. Knowing what your page speed is at all times can give you peace of mind, and the reporting can help you identify performance spikes you wouldn’t know about otherwise. Website Performance Monitoring keeps you aware of your page speed at all times.

Get page speeds from your users as they navigate your site

Although it is always a good idea to use synthetic web performance monitoring to proactively watch your page speed, Real User Monitoring can give you detailed information about actual user experiences on your site. A small script file tracks page speed as the page loads in the user’s browser. RUM collects the page speed data along with your visitor’s location, device, operating system, and browser. The result is rich aggregated user data that you can filter to view data based on any variation of the user environment variables. You also get a detailed breakdown of their experiences so you can see how your page did in regards to time to first byte (TTFB), DOM duration (Document Object Model), and download time.

Takeaways

  • Page speed is the amount of time it takes to request a page and have the page completely loaded in the browser.
  • Page speed affects the way users feel about a brand and its products and services.
  • Users expect the same performance on both mobile and desktop.
  • Slow page speeds increase bounce rates.
  • Page speed is important to SEO.
  • Google makes some final ranking determinations based on page speed.
  • Your website hosting service and type may affect page speed.
  • You can improve page speed quickly with some simple optimizations, such as controlling image file sizes and removing dead code.
  • Page speed can change quickly based on multiple factors. Synthetic website performance monitoring can capture performance lags you may not notice otherwise.
  • You can't make good decisions about content and infrastructure if you don't have baseline metrics and performance trends when making those decisions.

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